Christmas 2020

No surprise, it was a quiet Christmas. I’ve literally never spent a Christmas with fewer people in my life. We knew it was going to be different, so we decided to distract ourselves with a ski outing.

We skied at Belleayre Mountain for Christmas Eve. Skiing these days is a bit of an extra hassle because all of the mountains are limiting skiers, so you have to commit ahead of time to get access to the mountain. The good news is that that means there are fewer skiers, which is lovely anytime you ski, but especially when you ski during a pandemic. The bad news is that when the weather shifts and suddenly the forecast is 50s and rain, you’ve just got to make the best of it.

This was my first time skiing in a pandemic, and it felt really, really safe and lovely. There was an outdoor machine for picking up passes, and everyone was required to wear masks when they weren’t actively eating or skiing down a mountain. And plenty of folks were skiing down the mountain fully masked, and the one time we saw a family without their masks on in a lift line, someone else chastised them and they apologized and fixed it. So that was excellent. In spite of my longstanding commitment to hydration, I avoided all liquids to skip bathroom breaks, and so I ended up only going indoors once, for one quick pit stop. When I did, the lodge was so empty, and the few people inside were so spread out, that I wanted to take a picture to show you all how marvelous it was. . . but I didn’t want to take a picture quite as much as I wanted to leave the indoor space immediately.

But. The snow was melting quickly and conditions were pretty tragic. To make matters worse, I was wearing my glasses instead of contacts because I’ve run out of contacts and I’m waiting for my next eye appointment and prescription to get new ones. It turns out that wearing glasses and a mask with my helmet and goggles in the cold is a significant impediment to useful sight. And yes, I know that I can put the glasses on top of the mask to reduce fogging, but trust me when I tell you that it is less effective in this scenario. Also I was looking like a weird fashion disaster (yes, that’s also a headband, because I also haven’t gotten a haircut in at least a year and the locks needed discipline for the slopes).

The thing about skiing, if you are not a skier, is that the preparation is a significant impediment. Finding all the right gear, getting yourself buckled and zipped, closing up and then clomping around in those challenging boots is all a chore, but then once you get started with the downhill part, it is super-fun and you forget the slow start. And of course, the more you ski, the quicker all of that preparation is, because you’ve got your stuff handy and you’re proficient at everything. So right now, M will casually ski if she happens to get off work a couple of hours early (yes, thank you– she’s good!). Since it was our first ski of the season and the poor conditions caused us to traverse (laboriously move across level areas to get from one trail to another) more than usual, getting the fun part to outweigh the work part was a bit of a challenge. But we managed, eventually.

All along we’d planned to make it a fairly short day of skiing because we didn’t want to linger in the lodge. We’d packed a picnic with plans to get on the slopes early, then quit for a late lunch in the car as we drove home. Plus the weather had projected pouring rain, so the fact that it was just slightly too balmy with grey clouds looming seemed like a win. We were on our last run when it started to rain, so we congratulated ourselves on our wonderful timing as we shooshed down to the parking lot.

And of course, another favorite part of skiing is the bliss of removing your big heavy boots, plus we had each made ourselves especially fantastic sandwiches as part of our holiday celebration. So we were quite cheerful for the ride home. Things didn’t go so well for poor Belleayre, though. They had a “major snow slide” (some might call it a small avalanche, but po-tay-to, po-tah-to) on Christmas morning that did serious damage to one of their lodges. SO sad for them, but we were glad we’d visited when we did instead of planning for Christmas.

We spent the rest of Christmas Eve lazy–we’d prepared chicken chowder for dinner ahead of time, so we just slobbed about, watching Christmas movies (Elf and White Christmas) and snacking. We carried that lazy spirit through the weekend. We did four different Zoom calls. We opened gifts. We watched escapist television (Bridgerton). It was actually very relaxing and pleasant, as long as you didn’t think too much about what Christmas is usually like and all the people who are usually there with you.

The day after Christmas I did have a bit of a breakdown as I realized that some of M’s presents were not delivered as I’d specified and then, when they couldn’t deliver because they didn’t follow my directions, no one notified me, and so the items were returned and then marked as sold out, so even though I ‘d bought them way ahead of time, now they’d slipped from my grasp, while others continue to get shuttled around distribution facilities, doomed to be returned to sender because calling is fruitless. So I’ve had to redirect some items to send them to Niskayuna just so I can pack them into a box and send them again, myself. Which is not cheap. And I may or may not have cried on the phone with a customer service rep from Aerie. And it may or may not have been the only time I cried that day.

But, you know. That’s how things lately, right? We also spent plenty of time laughing uproariously and cuddling kitties and eating cheese, so things went as well as could be expected. You know. For 2020.

I hope that you’re all safe and well and are making the most of your holidays, such as they are.


  1. Claire

    I’m really sorry about that shipping fiasco. So frustrating. May 2021 be a much better year for us all.

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